For this special occasion, I’ve decided to write a commentary in English, so that it can be read by my German, Dutch, Castilian and English speaking friends too.
On 26th September I participated in the IV Pujada al Montsià, a trail running race of around 31.5km and a change of 3600m in altitude.
Three days earlier my very special pet Xola, a German Shepherd, had died and I ran the race to pay homage to her.
This particular race is integrated in the VIII Catalan Trail Running Circuit (VIII Circuit Català de Curses de Muntanya) as well as the Pam i Toc Trophy (Circuit de Curses de Muntanya de les Terres de l’Ebre - Trofeu Pam i Toc).
At 8am the female competitors started, followed by the males, who set off a quarter of an hour later. Usually, there’s no separate start, so it felt very unfamiliar to me to head towards the mountains through the streets of Alcanar with a relatively small group of women. Even so, I felt like I had a special task to fulfil and I was able to concentrate well, determined to run at my own pace.
No sooner had we left the town, I found a comfortable speed to run at, and, step by step, I could create a distance between me and the following runners.
Normally, it gives me a sense of freedom when I achieve this kind of gap; this time it meant that I was the lead runner, which felt boundless, even though I had to watch the indication tapes carefully.
The second km I was blinded by the sunlight and could not find any of the tapes for a moment... enough confusion to break my established rhythm and lose app. 30 seconds, during which Lucia Caballero was able to reduce the distance between us and subsequently, bring me back onto the track
The first hour we followed a path on which it was “easy” to run at speed. The altitude changes were still moderate and the temperature was pleasant.
Then, we were taken higher and higher into the mountains, with noticeably stronger inclinations and a change of soil to a more rocky type. I expected that the first male runners would overtake me very soon, but I didn’t hear anything behind me until I had crowned the first major summit and ran along its crest. The views were amazing to both sides indeed! At this point, I would also like to mention that while I was running, it felt as if my dear pet Xola was there with me and I was sharing all this with her.
A beautiful thought, isn’t it? Certainly, it gave me a lot of strength and courage for the long descent which was coming up.
Meanwhile, I had been overtaken by six male competitors, I think. They all greeted me and wished me good luck in passing.
During the steep descent some other runners passed and I was told that the second female competitor was miles away…
Next, we had to climb to the second important and highest summit. Two more runners overtook me and I think I must have been the 11th over all competitor (without taking into account the 15 minute head start). We crossed this peak at km 18 and still had over 13km to go… but the next 6km were downhill, which may be tough for your muscles and bones, but, at least, it allows your heart rate to go down for a while.
Anyway, after the descent and another shorter ascent I arrived safely at km25 and from then onwards the main focus of the trail seemed to be to flatten, always with a downhill tendency.
Finally, after 3h52m58s, I was the 13th runner to cross the finish, the 27th in real competition time, and the first woman, more than 18 minutes ahead of the second female competitor.
It has been the best and fastest race of this kind I’ve done so far. An achievement which I was able to accomplish in honour of the life and memory of Xola.